The Fab Blogger

I'm an ultra busy wife, teacher, doggy mom, interior design student, and aspiring domestic goddess just trying to make life as fabulous as possible.

-Stephanie

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Building Your Perfect Wardrobe Part II: Splurging on Essentials

Apr 17
The items you should invest in to start building your wardrobe

So now that you’ve identified your own style personality, it’s time to start building a wardrobe foundation. These ten items are the pieces you will go to time and again, (and again), so you should invest a bit more money in them. Before we go on, I do want to define “splurge.” Now I am in no way saying spend an entire month’s salary, or more, on a single item because of the label, which in actuality is probably of no better quality than its $200 companion. Splurging is relative. Spend what you feel comfortable spending. You may need to save a bit. Spending a couple of hundred dollars on a leather bag that will last for years may be a better investment than a $20 bag that will last a month. Investment is the key word. The more you spend on a single item, the longer it should last you. You will end up with a wardrobe of fewer pieces, but they will be better pieces. So what if you have to wear the same pants twice in a week; the French do it all the time, and we all know what fabulous dressers they are.

 

Anna Sui Top, Polka Dot Anna Sui Top

The Top That Started it All

Still feeling hesitant about buying one piece instead of five? I know the feeling. When I started my career, I still lived at home, so I had a bit more money to play with. I remember my mom taking me to this ritzy boutique in Pasadena, and I could not get myself to buy a $300 jacket, even though I had the money, and she was urging me to. I ended up buying fewer, cheaper pieces, all of which have made their way to the garbage heap. I’m pretty sure if I had bought that jacket, I would still have it. So, what changed my mind? For our first Christmas together my husband bought me a top I had been eyeing at Anthropologie. This was not just any top, this was an Anna Sui drool-worthy silk blouse with amazing drape and detail. Owning that one piece really changed things for me. I wanted more nice things, and without making a conscious effort, I started saving up for nicer pieces. Four years later I still have the Anna Sui (and get compliments on it all the time) along with a very small wardrobe of nice quality pieces. It only takes one nice piece to get you on the right track.


1. The Everyday Bag

leather-everyday-purse

A nice everyday bag can be tricky. I know people who spend thousands of dollars on a leather bag, and never use it because they don’t want to ruin it, and I know people who spend hundreds on a cloth purse in wild colors and brand initials. If you only have enough to splurge on one bag, get something in leather that you can use in all aspects of your life. Unless you wear a certain color everyday, I might also recommend getting a neutral that will go with a majority of your wardrobe. Remember that Anna Sui top? Well the next year my husband bought me a black Dooney and Bourke black leather satchel that is still in great shape and goes with everything (yes it became a Christmas tradition to buy me one nice thing). With the huge amount of styles to choose from, I know you can find one that fits your personality at a price you can live with.

2. Fitted Jacket

fitted-shapely-jacketThe number one reason to buy a fitted jacket: it camouflages everything! The key is to have the seaming fit to the smallest part of your waist. You’ll want to wear this item quite a bit, so go for a classic style. If you want to play around with pattern or texture, make sure the color palette is somewhat neutral so you don’t limit yourself to just a few outfits.

3. Cocktail Dress

cocktail-evening-dress

Every woman should have one go-to evening dress. I like to call it the cocktail dress. Let’s face it, most of us are not going to the Oscars, so most of us do not need a floor length evening gown. Opt for a shorter, flirty frock that matches your style personality. When it comes to color choice, the bolder the color, the more likely people will remember it at the next party. Also, if only one splurge-worthy dress fits into your budget, you need to start thinking about seasonal appropriateness. A summer dress may not work around the holidays. To get the most use out of your dress, try soft colors or neutrals in light fabrics.

4. Wide Legged Trousers

womans-work-trouser, womens wide legged pant

Regardless of your career, every woman should have a pair of great fitting, wide-legged trousers. These should go with your everyday bag and fitted jacket, so, once again, think neutrals. I’m going to be a bit lenient on the width of the leg. I did include a skinnier trouser because I know you rocker chic girls are probably thinking wide legged might not be your thing. Regardless of the width of the leg, a great pair of trousers will go a long, long way. Shopping hint: Unless you are super tall, most of these will be too long and will need to be hemmed. All a part of the investment!

5. Everyday Shoe

peep toe, ballet flat, kate spade, sling back, patent heel

Your feet are going to thank you for this one. I have purchased my share of cheap, stylish shoes for everyday wear before. Given that my job involves a ton of standing and walking, my feet were in pain. Splurging on shoes will actually make you feel better, and I’m not talking about your soul. Your everyday shoe is completely personal. I work with someone who swears that five inch heels are totally comfortable. Personally, I need ballet flats. A few things to remember, get a colored shoe if you know it will work with most of your wardrobe. The same goes for embellishments. I have owned the same pair of designer ballet flats for three years, and though they are a little worn, with a regular polish, they are going to last me a great deal longer.

6. The Little Black Dress

little-black-cocktail-evening-dress

I know you’ve heard it a million times, but this is a must. You need to make sure that your little black dress isn’t a plain little black dress; it needs to be special, or it’s not worth the splurge. Embellishments, beautifully draped fabrics, unique details: that’s what makes a little black dress your little black dress. A simple fit in a beautiful fabric may work for you casual girls, while the bohemians may want some intricate beading. Since we’re building a wardrobe, start with a dress that will work for multiple events. Dress it up for an evening out, dress it down for a day at work. Until you build up your wardrobe a bit, everything should be versatile.

7. Knee Boots

leather boots, womans leather bootsAt first, I really didn’t think I needed a pair of boots. I was perfectly content with my ballet flats. I finally decided to give in, and now I can’t imagine my wardrobe without them. Once again, go for neutral leather or suede, but have fun with the style. This is another chance to think about your style personality. Classic girls may want a simple riding boot in chocolate brown or black, while romantics might go for a pearly gray pair with a bit of a slouchy look. Have fun, make them special, and the extra money will be well worth it.

8. The Coat

winter coats for women, women's coatsTypically, winter clothing costs more than summer wear. That’s because it needs to keep you warm! In most climates, we wear our winter coat or jacket everyday for hopefully more than one season. The only way to make these last is to buy a quality piece. Since you will be wearing this almost everyday, it really should go with everything, so, once again, neutral. I know, neutral neutral, neutral, but we’re building your wardrobe base, so these pieces should be interchangeable. Don’t worry, we’ll get into color later, but for now, neutrals are key!

9. Dark Denim Trouser

dark jeans, trouser jeans

I‘ve heard that New Yorkers wear black. Well I’m from California, and do you know what we wear? Jeans! Jeans at work, jeans out to dinner, jeans out with the girls, jeans on the weekend. If states had official items of clothing, jeans would be ours. Ten years ago I hated shopping for jeans. I could never, ever, find a pair that fit correclty. On my 21st birthday I decided to just see if a more expensive pair would work. I will never forget that shopping trip. I finally found a pair of jeans that worked for me. There is something to say for premium denim. The trick is, since we are buying less on one or two quality pieces, how do we get one pair to fit in to all the aspects of our life? The answer is a dark wash, trouser fit. These will take you everywhere. Once again, I’ll make allowances for personal style, and say a skinny fit will also work, if that’s what works for you. Just make sure the wash is dark!

10. Your Signature Piece

wardrobe signature, personal style

This is all you and your own personality. Everyone should have their own signature item, an item that reminds people of you. Ankle boots, purses for every outfit, feminine tops, embellished tunics, printed dresses, detailed cardigans, a piece of jewelry you always wear, the list goes on. Maybe it’s a color; it’s completely up to you. For me, I have a colorful collection of shift dresses in interesting patterns, textures and colors that I pair with the other essential items. Make it your own and you won’t mind spending a bit more!

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